Sydneysiders are a thirsty bunch, and you don’t have to travel far to find a cocktail bar that delivers both delicious beverages and decadent décor – or a view. The fact that the city’s mixologists take home global awards for their work behind the bar is an added bonus.
When you’re in one of the world’s prettiest cities, there’s nothing else to do but drink it in. Make your first stop Henry Deane in Millers Point, perched atop heritage Hotel Palisade, once the city’s highest building. You can still glimpse the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The city’s current highest building also comes with a lofty lounge: the gem topping Crown Towers Sydney is the sparkling CIRQ, towering 26 floors over Barangaroo.
But you don’t need your head in the clouds for a sparkling outlook. Perennial favourite Icebergs Bar is perched just metres from the sand at Bondi Beach, which means Sunday sessions come with a side of surf. Also east of the city is Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel, where tables spill towards the water, your Aperol spritz-fuelled outlook extending all the way to the Harbour Bridge and CBD. The towers of the city are also in firm focus when you pull up a chair at The Butler, its indoor-outdoor theme the perfect complement to the watery view.
From vitamin-C-packed finger limes to wild peppermint, native Australian ingredients now star in cocktails across Sydney. It makes sense – they’re packed with antioxidants, are sustainable and are seriously tasty. Case in point, the Native Negroni at SoCalin Neutral Bay, your tipple made with all-Aussie ingredients including green-and gin.
It’s a similar story at Re Bar, Australia’s first zero-waste bar, where your cocktail might be infused with eucalyptus honey or macadamia whiskey. Order the Quandong Fizz at Opera Bar – with views of the Harbour Bridge – for a zingy concoction hero-ing quandong and native plum. Meanwhile, lemon myrtle stars in The Australian martini at award-winning Maybe Sammy in The Rocks – the best bar in Australia alert. Over at New York-style Employees Only, caviar-like finger-lime pearls star on the cocktail menu.
Channel the tropical vibes of Cuba or America’s southern spirit when you settle in to one of Sydney’s themed – but oh-so-cool – small bars. Taking inspiration from Polynesia is Jacoby’s Tiki Barin Enmore, where you can order punch, pina colada or a mai tai served in tiki glasses or hollowed-out fruit; the lounge is just as colourful, bedecked with tropical knick-knacks.
Rum is the spirit of choice at Cuban-themed The Lobo, deep underground and with a menu that might include cocktails like the Old Grogam: house-spiced rum, lemon, sugar, stout vermouth… and flames. Bringing the vibes of New Orleans to Newtown is Earl's Juke Joint, a homage to the Deep South with loud music and a delicious line-up of drinks. Good luck deciding what to order.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.